Peneda Gerês National Park
The only national park in Portugal is located in the north, in the Norte region. The Peneda-Gerês was founded in 1971 and covers an area of 700 km². Parts of the park are privately owned. The diverse landscape offers rivers, high mountains, waterfalls and endless hiking trails through mountain ridges. Active vacationers hike past wild ponies and can drink fresh mountain water along the way. One of the most attractive hiking trails through the park is the Trilho da Preguiça, as it offers numerous beautiful viewpoints.
Ponte Vasco da Gama
Car travelers should not miss the Ponte Vasco da Gama motorway bridge in Portugal. It is one of the longest motorway bridges in the world and spans 17 km across the Rio Tejo estuary. It connects the capital Lisbon with Almada and Setúbal. The name of the cable-stayed bridge, with the main opening for ships, is reminiscent of the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama. During the crossing there is a great view of Lisbon at a height of 150 m.
The beautiful city of Porto is located in the northwest of the country, at the mouth of the Douro. Due to its historic buildings and monuments, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The highlights of the city are the impressive cathedral, the bell tower, the old city garden São Lázaro and the famous port wine houses, which are nestled on a hillside. Porto also has a number of interesting museums, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and exhibitions in the former Stock Exchange. The museum of the former monastery of Santo Tirso is dedicated to archaeological finds.
Cultural landscape of Sintra
Colorful and playful fairytale castles characterize the cultural landscape of Sintra in western Portugal. The romantic splendor lies embedded in dense forests and hilltops, from which a grandiose castle and majestic estates rise. Since 1995, the Sintra landscape has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attraction is the Palace da Pena, a colorful palace surrounded by a rainforest-like park. Another must-see is Villa Quinta da Rigaleira. It has a loving labyrinth garden that also inspires children. The historic core of Sintra is like an open-air museum with the impressive gardens of the Palace de Seteais, the Capuchos Monastery, several museums and the Park of Monserrate.
Costa Verde and Costa de Prata
The holiday areas Costa de Prata and Costa Verde north of Porto do not need to hide behind the Algarve. These stretches of coastline are more tranquil, offering miles of beaches in scenic settings. Many locals and capital city dwellers are drawn to the Costa de Prata. The fishing village of Nazaré is one of the most popular holiday resorts in the region. Here you will find small hotels, numerous holiday homes and inland the historic monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Costa Verde is especially ideal for sports travelers and families. Children can choose between the fine sandy beach and the coarse sandy banks of the Minho River. Kit surfing, canoe tours, hiking and biking are just some of the possible activities on the Costa Verde.
Surrounded by salt marshes, lagoons and beaches, the northern city of Aveiro is nicknamed the Portuguese Venice. Colorful gondola boats swaying in the large canal characterize the cityscape. The former Dominican convent Convento de Jesu from the 15th century and the church Igreja da Misericórdia are particularly worth visiting. The church features impressive blue and white tile work on the facade. The best way to explore the lagoon landscape of the Ria de Aveiro nature reserve north of the city is on a boat trip.
Holiday with children
As in most southern countries, the Portuguese are very child and family friendly. Many attractions for children and the family hotels make children’s hearts beat faster. Child tariffs usually apply up to the age of ten. Children’s attractions in the Lisbon and Northern Portugal region include the Lisbon Zoo and Oceanário, the Toy Museum in Sintra, a boat tour on the Cais da Ribeira in Porto and the Gil Eannes hospital and icebreaker ship in Viana do Castelo. In the Alentejo region and central Portugal, the megaliths on the Costa Azul, the caves at Alvados, the dinosaur tracks in the Serra de Aire and the Miniature Museum in Coimbra are all worth seeing for children. There are many family hotels in the Algarve. The small zoo in Lagos and the oceanographic park in Guia are particularly exciting.
The historic city of Coimbra is located in western Portugal on the Mondego River and west of the Serra Estrela Nature Reserve. The renowned university is located on the city hill of Coimbra, right next to the New Cathedral Sé Nova and the Art Museum. The botanical garden near the university is one of the most impressive in all of Portugal. The steps of the Quebra Costas (literally: back breaker) staircase descend into the historic center of Coimbra. There are many bars, cafés and shops of all kinds. Also worth seeing is the theme park, which is located south of the river. Villages, monuments and buildings are recreated in miniature form. A short walk further takes visitors to the ruins of the Gothic monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha.
The beach season in Portugal starts as early as May when the daytime temperatures are a stable 25 degrees Celsius. Most of the beaches are in the Algarve. Between Albufeira and Praia da Rocha alone there are 25 beaches, some of which can be easily reached via stairs. A quiet family beach can be found east of Carvoeiro at Praia de Vale de Centianes. Lovers of wild and romantic beaches with crashing waves should make a detour to Barriga Beach. In the central north you will find very beautiful but lesser known beaches. An endless sandy beach is 13 km behind the village of Quiaios in the village of Palheiros da Tocha and a popular dune beach can be found in Sáo Jacinto.
The mountainous region of Montanhas in northeastern Portugal has a wild, unspoilt landscape with rivers, forests, vineyards and mineral springs. Despite its fame, the Montanhas region is by no means overcrowded with tourists, on the contrary – here you will find peace and quiet. In the deep, green forests of the Serra da Estrela, you can walk away from everyday thoughts. The most famous Portuguese thermal baths are in the Montanhas region: Vidago, Pedras, Chaves, Felgueiras, Salgadas, São Pedro do Sul, Aregos, Manteigas and Monfortinho.
Estoril was once an exclusive vacation spot for the rich from all over the world and is located near Lisbon. Today the city has adapted to the needs of modern tourism. However, the high standard of the hotels on the magnificent Tamariz Beach has been preserved. Sports enthusiasts will find ideal conditions here all year round. Golf, horseback riding and tennis are particularly popular activities. In addition to the country’s largest casino, there is also a well-known Formula 1 race track in Estoril.